Reviews BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students review
BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students review

BankAmericard Cash Rewards Card for Students review

Published: May 25, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Students Rating:
3.3 rating
3.3 rating
3.3 / 5
Introductory Offer 4.9
Interest and Fees 1.7
Rewards Program 4.6
Features 3.0

In a nutshell:

Bank of America’s cash rewards program is one of the most valuable in the student card category, but fledgling cardholders need to watch out for high interest rates and penalties.

APR
13.74-23.74%

Annual Fee
None

Penalty APR
29.99%

Introductory Offer
0% APR for 12 billing cycles on new purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening

Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($300 monthly spend)
$88

Rewards Program

  • 2% cash back on grocery and 3% on gas – limited to $1,500 in purchases per quarter
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • $100 bonus if you spend $500 in first 90 days

Other Notable Features: EMV chip, mobile banking and text alerts, fixed payment due date, 10% customer bonus

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As a student applying for your first credit card, there are probably three things at the top of your mind: building your credit history, finding a card that will deign to accept you and your limited credit history, and then, perhaps, getting some cash rewards out of it too. If you’re in it for the credit history and the rewards, Bank of America has one of the most valuable cash rewards programs for students, along with some useful tools to help you manage your credit.

Generous rewards program
The card piles on rewards from the start. First, there’s a $100 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first 90 days. Then, you get generous bonus categories: 2 percent cash back on groceries and 3 percent on gas, for up to $1500 dollars in spending each quarter. There’s a 1 percent cash back rate on general purchases. Plus, you get an additional 10 percent bonus if you deposit those rewards into a Bank of America account. The restrictions are minimal. There are no expiration dates (except for your cash-back checks, which must be deposited within 90 days). There is a minimum threshold of 2,500 points for redemption, but this amount can be easily reached by the average cardholder.

Long introductory period
Bank of America has one of the longest introductory periods in the student category. The card offers zero-percent interest for 12 billing cycles on both balance transfers and new purchases. This could come in handy if you’re looking to finance a large purchase, or you’re carrying a large balance on another card. But you need to watch out for the costs that kick in if you don’t succeed in paying off your balance (more on that below).

Useful financial management tools
We prefer student cards that help students manage their credit wisely, and Bank of America offers a couple of useful features for this purpose. One of these is email and text alerts – you can set alerts to remind you when a payment is due to help you stay on top of deadlines. The other valuable feature is the fixed payment deadline. Having a consistent due date goes a ways to helping a new cardholder make payments on time.

Other useful perks
The card is among the first generation of cards that contain an EMV chip. As more merchants activate their EMV terminals, cardholders should appreciate this extra layer of security. There are a few other nice perks as well, including car rental insurance and extended warranty.

Some high costs in the fine print
The main drawback of this card is the regular interest rate. The APR starts at 13.74 percent and can range up to 23.74 percent, which is on the high side for a student card. On top of this, there is a hefty penalty APR of 29.99 percent that applies after the first missed payment. For a novice card user, this could be a big pitfall – if you build up a balance and miss a payment, you could find yourself racking up large amounts of interest. 

For this reason, we rate this card highly, but with a few reservations. Cardholders will enjoy the cash rewards, and there are some features to help them manage their credit wisely. But they should be especially prepared to stay on top of their balance and make payments on time before they apply.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • You’re a student looking to establish a credit history.
  • You’re already a Bank of America customer.
  • You want a student card with a large cash rewards program.
  • You’re carrying a large balance on another card.
  • You want to finance a new purchase at zero percent (and you have the discipline to pay it off in 12 billing cycles).

How to use it:

  • If you decide to go for the zero-percent introductory offer, make sure you can pay it off in 12 billing cycles. The regular interest rate – once it kicks in – is high.
  • Take advantage of Bank of America’s email and text alerts to keep on top of your payment deadlines.
  • If you have a Bank of America account, you can deposit your rewards there for a 10-percent bonus.

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